SAN DIEGO – San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed an emergency motion to help prevent further in-custody deaths inside county jails.  

The emergency action has authorized pay incentives to hire more clinical and regular staff with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and also authorizes the sheriff’s department to add more scanners to stop drugs from entering the jails. 

“That action will help with the $200,000 purchase, using the Sheriff’s Department existing budget, of a new body scanner and up to eight additional scanners over the next five years,” officials said in a statement. 

In the month of July, five deaths occurred inside county jails – all of them drug overdoses.  A total of 15 deaths have happened in 2022, thus far. In an audit done earlier this year, San Diego County was shown to have had the highest number of inmate deaths in the United States from 2006 to 2020, a whopping 185.

“Overdoses deaths are up significantly across the county and the jail population is a reflection on what is happening county-wide,” said Chair Nathan Fletcher with the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. 

Fletcher says fentanyl has plagued our community which is now being mirrored inside the jails and something has to be done.  

With a shortage of workers in almost all fields, this action plan will allow the sheriff’s department to be able to be competitive and close the labor shortage gaps.  

Previously announced incentives include: 

  • Deputies, sergeants, and lieutenants who work four or more hours between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 8 a.m. will receive a five-percent nightshift premium. 
  • Sheriff’s nursing staff who work within county jails will get a 10 percent premium. 
  • Peace officers with at least one year of experience who choose to lateral from another law enforcement agency will receive incentive pay for a maximum of $20,000. 
  • Lateral hires will be given 42.5 hours of vacation time in their very first pay period. 
  • New employees moving to San Diego County will be offered a relocation allowance of up to $15,000. 
  • Current Sheriff’s employees who recruit people for specific positions such as deputies, nurses, or emergency services dispatchers will be offered a $1,000 bonus 

“Hopefully will help us get in a better position to continue to do everything we can to not only protect the safety of our workers and ensure their morale and stamina and all the efforts they do but also ensure we do everything we can do protect the health and safety that come into our custody,” said Fletcher.  

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is asking the sheriff’s department to circle back with the new incentive programs in 60 days.